'We expected worse' - performance venues optimistic despite new Covid rules

Wells Maltings director Simon Daykin (left) and Thursford marketing manager George Cushing 

Wells Maltings director Simon Daykin (left) and Thursford marketing manager George Cushing - Credit: Archant

Performance venues are staying upbeat ahead of the busy festive season after the country's move to Plan B.

Stricter rules are being introduced over the coming days to combat the spread of the Omicron variant. 

People in England are being asked to work from home where possible, while Covid passes will be needed to get into nightclubs and large venues.

Face masks are also being made compulsory in more indoor settings, such as theatres and cinemas. 

And George Cushing, marketing manager at Thursford - which is currently hosting its showpiece Christmas spectacular - called the mask mandate "a good thing".

He said: "We have been strongly advising people to wear them since we started performing.

“Around 90pc of our audience have been wearing them and, hopefully, the remaining 10pc will be encouraged as well. It's good news for everyone."

Thursford Christmas Spectacular is back after the pandemic cancelled its 2020 show and halted all th

A scene from Thursford Christmas Spectacular - Credit: Thursford Collection

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Mr Cushing admitted he had feared the new rules would be even stricter. 

“I think we were expecting a worse announcement - and we were ready for it in November," he added. 

"We were scared they would bring in stricter rules that would discourage people from coming.

"Now, we are staying positive that we will get through to December 23 and the audience will love it."

Thursford Christmas Light Show. Thursford team unpacking life sized light up animals and festive sho

Thursford Christmas Light Show. Thursford team unpacking life sized light up animals and festive show pieces. Project manager George Cushings.Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

Another venue intent on seeing visitors wear face coverings is Wells Maltings. 

Director Simon Daykin said: "With the announcement, we have already adopted a policy of compulsory mask-wearing in our building.

"When you walk through our doors - unless you are exempt - you will be expected to wear a mask. 

"Customers last year and this year have commended us for making them feel safe and we are still taking things very seriously. 

The Maltings in Wells has re-opened after a £5m regeneration work. Pictured is Director Simon Daykin

The Maltings in Wells has re-opened after a £5m regeneration work. Pictured is Director Simon Daykin. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

"We see this as a shift in lifestyle that we all have to get used to, but by no means to the detriment of your enjoyment."

While neither Thursford nor the Maltings will have to ask for Covid passports, stringent cleaning procedures will remain.

The latter has also maintained a section of socially-distanced seating. 

"Those who still want to maintain an element of caution have the option to do so," said Mr Daykin.

"That does reduce our capacity by 20pc, but we feel that is an appropriate response. 

"Our position is that the safety of our audience, staff and performers remains paramount."